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What if the Founding Fathers had free speech wrong?

first_imgBut what did the founders understand those words to mean?A remarkable answer comes from Jud Campbell, a University of Richmond law professor, who has just produced what might well be the most illuminating work on the original understanding of free speech in a generation.In a November article in the Yale Law Journal, Campbell argues that the founders meant to protect a lot less speech than most of us think.It’s a jarring claim.For decades some influential readers, including Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, have said that the First Amendment is an “absolute,” meaning that it forbids any restrictions on speech.Most others, including members of the current Supreme Court, insist that it doesn’t go quite that far.For example, government can regulate bribery, obscenity, perjury and false commercial advertisements – not to mention false cries of “fire!” in a crowded theater. At the same time, engagement with the historical materials raises hard questions for free-speech enthusiasts.Campbell contends that on the original understanding, Citizens United (the Supreme Court’s decision protecting the right of corporations to spend money on political campaigns) “would likely have to go.”His analysis also suggests that the First Amendment was probably not meant to protect hate speech, flag-burning or efforts to promote terrorism.On these issues, it makes sense to grapple with 18th-century understandings, and to do so with humility and respect.Campbell’s elaboration of those understandings shows that in expanding protection of freedom of speech, the United States has made a ton of progress – but that in some areas, we may have lost a sense of balance along the way.Cass Sunstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He is the author of “#Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media” and a co-author of “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness.”More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motorists But almost everyone agrees that, with well-defined exceptions, freedom of speech is the general rule, and that it is the Supreme Court’s business is to protect it.Campbell contends that the founding generation did not see things this way.In his account, theirs was an altogether different political world, and their concepts and principles were not at all like ours.Campbell starts with the claim that much of the founders’ thinking was organized around the idea of “natural rights” — rights that people could have without any government at all. Unlike the rights to a jury trial and to due process of law, the right to speak counted as a natural right.But this didn’t mean that free speech was an absolute, or even that courts should protect it.Far more modestly, it meant that speech could be restricted only to protect the public good, and only when the people’s representatives voted in favor of the restriction.For the most part, it was up to the legislature to decide whether speech needed to be regulated to protect the public good – understood, in James Madison’s terms, as the “safety and happiness of society.” It would also allow the government to punish efforts to deceive others (and deception is a pretty large category).Campbell illustrates these points by noting that in the founding period, there was vigorous debate about the Sedition Act of 1798, under which people could be fined or imprisoned for writing, printing, uttering or publishing “any false, scandalous, and malicious writing against the government of the United States, or either House of Congress, or the President, with intent to defame, or bring either into contempt or disrepute, or to excite against either the hatred of the people of the United States.”From the standpoint of law in the 21st century, that’s plainly unconstitutional.But in the founding era, most people seemed to think that it was fine.One commentator insisted that “[t]he freedom of the press and opinions was never understood to give the right of publishing falsehoods and slanders, nor of exciting sedition, insurrection, and slaughter, with impunity.”Campbell’s research raises serious questions for “originalists” – those who believe, with Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, that the meaning of the Constitution is settled by the original understanding of its terms.Do we really want to go back to the 18th-century view of freedom of speech?center_img As one writer explained, “Political liberty consists in a freedom of speech and action, so far as the laws of a community will permit, and no farther.”Campbell offers two important qualifications. First, the founding generation opposed licensing of the press.In that way, they sought to forbid prior restraints on what members of the press could say (without necessarily forbidding subsequent punishment through criminal trials).Second, they thought that (in Campbell’s words) “well-intentioned statements of one’s views were immune from regulation.”That means that so long as your speech was not meant to mislead or harm others, you were protected.These qualifications would afford considerable protection to free speech — but from the point of view of current law, not nearly enough. It would allow the government to enforce norms of civility – as with laws punishing blasphemy and profanity.It would allow punishment of falsehoods – as through expansive use of libel law to extract big damage awards from newspapers and broadcasters (as favored by President Donald Trump). Categories: Editorial, OpinionAccording to the most famous words of the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.”last_img read more

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Border wall will only serve to divide us

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionWe often rely on simple approaches to understand strangers around us.One approach is to try to understand who and what a person admires and imitates. Another is to admit that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so don’t play judge.A major item that is coming up for debate this year is the border wall between our nation and Mexico.Border walls have a very long and questionable history. Most have failed in their goals. They’ve defined national borders, kept hostile enemies at bay, and prevented their own citizens from fleeing.An example we all know would be what many Westerners called “Wall of Shame,” or the Berlin Wall. What did it say about its builders and what they thought of people? Does our president admire the Berlin Wall?Switching to beauty being in the eye of the beholder, who doesn’t swell with patriotic pride at the sight of the Statue of Liberty? In contrast, I remember driving along the towering and threatening wall near Tijuana and wondering why Mexican nationals are treated like criminals. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I can’t remember a church that has a wall in front.Walls are barriers we choose to erect. Large, imponderable, formidable walls are an insult to the beauty of the world. Walls define others as different and undesirable. An unquestioning us versus them approach. What do walls say about us?Don CooperAmsterdamMore from The Daily Gazette:Three seniors who started as seventh-graders providing veteran experience for Amsterdam golfEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationlast_img read more

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Letters to the Editor for Wednesday, Feb. 20

first_imgWhether or not you attend the event, you can take action to protect youth from being exposed to smoking on the big screen by signing this petition: www.change.org/p/mpaa-nato-r-rate-smoking-to-make-kid-rated-movies-smokefreeYasmin Torres SchenectadyThe writer is an 11th-grade student at Niskayuna High School and a member of Schenectady County Reality Check (www.realitycheckofny.com). Why bring politics into halftime show?I’m an avid reader of The Daily Gazette and cannot help but comment on Jack Osterlitz’s Feb. 13 letter on the halftime show of the Super Bowl. Why is it today you cannot criticize something without blaming the Democrats or Republicans? His comparison to the halftime show and the Democrats is appalling. I know it’s your opinion, Mr. Osterlitz, but you took the actual criticism away from the show and put it on the Democrats. Why? I find that both parties find any way possible to criticize each other. Whatever happened to working together? Since this is the opinion page, this is just my opinion.  Peggy McHale Ballston Spa Trump needs to be held in check, againTrump fulfills a key campaign promise – to build a wall – misdirecting billions of federal dollars completely around Congress  for an imaginary emergency.Time to get out the lawyers. Again. To keep the “chief” in check. Again and again. Thank you for your time and attention.Jon LemelinNiskayunaMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusGov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationCuomo calls for clarity on administering vaccinecenter_img Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionSmoking in movies sends bad messageThe Oscars are airing on Feb. 24, host-less but not without more than its share of smoking featured in its nominated films. In fact, the youth-rated films nominated for an Oscar this year contain twice as much tobacco as youth-rated films in 2018. Why does that matter?According to the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, movies with smoking will recruit 6 million American kids to smoke in this generation and cause 2 million smoking-related deaths. Rating these movies R would cut these deaths in half and save 1 million lives. As a member of a teen program called Reality Check, which empowers youth to become leaders in the movement against tobacco use and the tobacco industry, I want to bring attention to the fact that smoking in youth-rated films has caused underage kids to start smoking. During the week leading up to the Oscars, I’ll be volunteering at free smoke-free movie event from 5 to 8:30 p.m. today (Feb. 20) at the Schenectady County Library to help raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco use and the impact of tobacco imagery shown in films. The event will feature the Disney film, A Wrinkle in Time, which contains no smoking imagery, and will include trivia games, giveaway prizes, and pizza for families that attend. last_img read more

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Towering ambition

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Hugo Jackson takes European plunge…as TrizecHahn is ready to quit

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

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JOHN PRESCOTT – KEN LIVINGSTONE – in a true story by Tim Danaher

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NHP achieves 58% annual increase in NAV

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Joining the big boys

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The market in minutes

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Wanted: KCIC looking for 2,400 employees for Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway

first_imgAs the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway (KCJB) is set to launch operations next year, the Indonesia-China consortium Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC) is currently seeking 2,400 workers to join them in running the company.KCIC human resources director Puspita Anggraeni said the company was providing an opportunity for talented individuals across the nation to work there.“We [KCIC] are extending the opportunity for the nation’s best individuals to become a part of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway operational team. Those who are chosen to join us will become part of the first generation of high-speed railway operators in Indonesia,” Puspita said in a written statement received by The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.  The employee recruitment will be conducted at a wide scale in several phases. Some of the available positions entail signaling systems, technical fields and passenger attendant work.KCIC also invited fresh graduates or experienced individuals to apply for the aforementioned positions, as well as for the company’s top priority positions such as railroad engineer and operation control center personnel. During the first phase of recruitment, the company recruited 30 future employees who are currently attending training sessions to increase their competency and skills. Employees requiring a special license will be sent to train abroad. Those who are interested in joining the recruitment process can send their application to recruitment@kcic.co.id, or through WhatsApp at 081211559991. Future candidates are strongly advised to check out the needed requirements for their position through KCIC’s social media accounts and website.Topics :last_img read more

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